Tweet of the Day: White-clad, with Candles in her Hair…
I made my way through the busy sidewalks of White City on my way home. The sun faded from view hours before, and in the cold cramped streets shoppers hurried home. Home for me, at least for most of the year, was a night, no luxurious flat in Notting Hill, courtesy of a foreign correspondent who wanted to cover the cost of it while he was off in Afghanistan. No other way I could afford a place so close to work, or at least within biking distance from the Beep studios.
What was once foreign was now familiar. The rows of pubs, antique stores, Indian restaurants and pharmacies. Some of the faces turned familiar as well. Antonia Gales, who owned a nice bookstore/coffee shop, with her wispy hair, warm smiles and tales of all the exotic places she read about. Then there was Mr. al-Sadr, the food market owner, who missed his homeland of Iraq with a passion only a foreigner like myself could understand. Keith Bentley Taylor, who proudly showcased the family history as craftsmen (including a few tailors) that went back all the way to the Middle Ages.
Not paradise, of course. There was some crime, a scandal involving several local MPs and a dozen Page Three girls and so on. And to top it off a near riot exploded during the annual Notting Hill Carnival, but after eleven months it was home.
Goliath waited by the door the moment I got home. A black and tan German Shepperd, his ears now stood up like radar antenna, always on the lookout for new adventures.
“How you doing boy!” I said with a vigorous scratch behind his ears. He rewarded me with an extreme tongue lashing, “Okay, that’s enough! Doggy drool. Yuck! Now I have to take a bath!” The head tilt told me he had no idea what I just said. Ginger, my white and orange cat came running down the stairs and lassoed herself around my legs. “I’m happy to see you too.” Showered, food prepared, served and consumed for both humans and pets. I laid on the widow sill that was wide enough to accommodate a few pillows. Ginger jumped on my chest.
“Good enough for me. Too bad I can’t go home this Christmas. Warm winds, family, tropical green, you would like it Ginger. Lots of sun beams for your to sleep on.”
“Yeah…well,” I said. My eyelids felt heavier and heavier. My mind wondered through a food induced haze. Instead of thoughts of home, a name came up, Emma. She was a production assistant, with short brown hair, easy smile and way of turning heads just so when she passed by. Of all the people I could think off, she was the only one on my mind.
Why is that?
That’s very interesting.
I know a pub around the corner.
Coffee would be nice.
I don’t mind at all.
You’re staying in London for Christmas?
Why don’t you….
The incessant buzz of the cell phone burst through my slumber. The text read:
ON THE PUB. WISH YOU WERE HERE. EMMA.
The time was 11:25 p.m.
She probably meant the pub she told me about so long ago. Or at least it seemed a long time ago. Goliath snoozed at my feet. I deposited the sleeping pup in his bed. Ginger decided to join him, for warmth I guess. I jumped in the shower, grabbed the best clothes I could find and dashed outside. The night air smacked me in the face with a brutal cold hand. The sooner I got to the pub the better.
Cold air turned muggy hot the moment the pub door opened. People milled around, drinks in hand, Santa hats on heads singing old tunes.
“Jorge! Lager or bitter?” shouted Jeff, the proprietor, from behind the bar studded with blinking Christmas lights.
When in Rome.
“Bitter!” I shouted back.
My eyes scanned the crowd but saw no sign of her.
I tapped Edith, one of my co-workers on the shoulder, “Have you seen Emma around?”
“Emma! Oh yeah, she was here earlier but left about a minute or two ago,” she slurred between sips of her drink.
I downed my beer and left the pub. I turned right instead of left, in the direction of Emma’s flat. The moment I reached under her window my wristwatch beeped.
Then I spotted Tom, the office’s s self proclaimed lothario, coming out of the building front door. He waved at me with a wide grin and walked down the street. The phone buzzed again.
MERRY XMAS JORGE.
Caller ID: Emma.
I looked up and saw a silhouette through the window curtains. Either he was as quick as he was effective or….
Why would she send me another text? Does she know I’m even here? For that matter, what the hell I’m I doing here?
At that very moment, a snowflake landed on the pavement, followed by another and then a dozen others. Snow on Christmas day. I didn’t believe the weatherman when he predicted it, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.
I called her, “Hey Emma! Yes, it’s me. Merry Christmas to you too. I’m, well I’m very close by, actually. Right out in front.”
The curtain parted. She smiled down at me and waved me up. Buzzer at the door, up the narrow stairs case on the right, and there I stood in front of her door with no idea why I was there. Yet my heart raced at a hundred beats a second.
Then she opened the door wearing a blue and gold gipao.